Spider-Man: Far from Home
Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Remi Hii, Martin Starr, JB Smoove, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Cobie Smulders, Numan Acar
PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
Buy on DVD/Blu-ray
We have easily reached peak superhero saturation and while many of the films of this genre have been quite entertaining, the number of high quality entries continues to decline as the formula of how to make such a movie becomes overused. Spider-Man: Far from home, for all of its enjoyable elements, is the kind of film that exemplifies the stagnation of the genre.
The story follows after the events of Avengers: Endgame and spoils everything about that film, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t touch this one until then. After getting its world-setting out of the way, we find Peter Parker (Tom Holland) wanting to live a normal life in spite of his super powers, including dating MJ (Zendaya) and traveling to Europe for a school outing. While in Venice, Peter finds himself confronted with his own misgivings and trepidations while a new hero, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), arrives to save the city from a major calamitous event.
While Andrew Garfield may still be the definitive version of the confident Spider-Man with which many comic fans are familiar, Tom Holland is starting to come into his own in the role. The film still gives him plenty of doubts, doubts that have now carried into four different movies, but as he gains assuredness in his abilities in this film, hope springs that he will soon become the bold, snarky superhero we all deserve. So far, the paucity of witty rejoinders in these films has been a disappointment.
Marvel has finally gotten itself to the point where it can provide the audience with good-natured humor that doesn’t feel forced. And although this is a film produced by Sony, the script appears to have been run by Disney for approval first, thus removing anything even remotely creative or original. Then again, there might not have been anything like that in the first draft anyway.
The visual effects employed in this film are spectacular and there are a ton of incredibly funny moments. Yet, the similarity between this film and the myriad others of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) showcases the limitations of the genre and how it desperately needs to find new ways to be creative. Apart from Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, the franchise has been treading water for a few years now. While the films remain incredibly popular, the gentle slide in quality will eventually damage the MCU and Disney will have no one to blame but themselves.
Spider-Man: Far from Home remains an engaging film and while there are plenty of elements to love, from the winningly awkward Zendaya to the strong turn by Gyllenhaal, the film still lacks direction, leaving the audience to coast off the highs of past films to convince them that the similarity to others in the franchise is less of a bug and more of a feature.
There are two end credits sequences in this film. One comes after the elaborate title sequence for the film and the other comes at the very end. There isn’t much wrong with the first one as it establishes the direction Phase IV of the MCU will take, though it is played for laughs that aren’t terribly funny. The biggest concern is the references in the second post-credits sequence.
One of the most frustrating storylines the comic books ever came up with was the revelation to the general public of Spider-Man’s real identity. This ending, while it sets up that exact plot from the comics, there’s something generally frustrating about it. Rather than giving the carefree Spider-Man an opportunity to kick the butt of some nefarious villain in the next film, we’re promised more of the same with an aggrieved Peter struggling to balance his hero life with his personal life, which will lead him to constantly fret about the safety of his Aunt May as well as his school friends, including his new girlfriend Mary Jane.
As this plays directly into the notion of the timid Spider-Man referenced in my earlier comments about Holland’s performance, it does become worrisome that we will never get anything but the neurotic Spider-Man and that only promises disappointment and frustration for the future of the character.
Probables: Visual Effects
August 6, 2019